Today’s consumer demands instant service online for all aspects of their lives, and most often by using a mobile phone. If you have to wait to talk to someone about your problem, whether medical, business, or legal, it’s a source of great frustration. Plus, it’s no secret that technology implementation within legal has lagged behind other industries. In Part I, I wrote about the growing use of chat and chat-bot technology for the group legal services plans and its attorneys. Now, I want to expand upon the use of technology in legal services to mobile services. Mobile access for on demand legal help provides affordable legal services, and also enables attorneys to be more responsive.
In 2014, Thomson Reuters compared the FindLaw survey results from 2005 to the 2014 and noted that 38% of people would use the internet to find and research an attorney, up from 7% in just nine years. In 2017, the same survey showed that not only are 71% of people looking for a legal solution using their smart phones, more than half, or 58%, want results within one week of the legal incident. Couple those statistics with the large underserved population, often estimated at over 80% of Americans, and this is an opportunity for attorneys and legal services plan to reach new clients using mobile technology.
For attorneys, this also means that your website must be mobile-friendly or responsive. Check how your firm’s website displays on a smart phone and tablet to ensure that anyone who is searching for you online using a mobile device can read your information. In addition, a simple contact form with links to email and a phone number should all be easily found on the front screen so that potential clients can reach out anytime by their phone. People do not wish to wait until your office opens the next day if they have a legal issue. Attorneys must be available and responsive.
Any contact form should gather some information on the actual legal issue and if possible connect the potential client to either a person to discuss the matter or allow them to schedule an appointment without waiting. If these touchpoints are not available for immediate access, consumers may move to the next firm.
In some areas of the law, technology solutions such as prequalification questionnaires and chat-bots can allow the potential client to provide basic information to inform the initial consultation. For example, basic information can be gathered for will preparation using a questionnaire, saving the lawyer time and the client money. This type of secure question and answer format can be used for family law, immigration, and small business matters as a triage to better serve the client. In some cases, these solutions provide client education as well.
With legal services plans, the trend is to have member access be simplified by use of mobile. For example, members are able to use their smart phone to snap a photo of their traffic ticket and send to their provider firm via the mobile application. We also provide education for our members on what to do and not to do during a traffic stop and a have simple, easy to use will questionnaire that goes directly to the lawyer. This ability to connect directly with a law firm on a phone meets the current demands of the consumer that is looking for quick legal issue resolution for all types of matters.
Firms and legal plans need to work together to create responsive and affordable legal solutions to address the justice gap in this country. The final installment in these series will examine accountability for lawyers through the use of net promoter score.